With the exception of the famous April Fair, there are few places in the city of Seville capable of congregating thousands of people to sing in unison with such passion. One of them is the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán stadium. Before kick-off, the Sevilla FC fans join together in a love song dedicated to their team to the cry of “Sevilla, Sevilla, Sevilla!”, the climax of the age-old club anthem, rated by France Football as one of the best five in the world.
In spite of the big European nights which the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán has hosted this century, there is one clash every season which eclipses all others played at the ground: the local derby which pits the city’s two clubs, Sevilla FC, and Real Betis, against each other for 90 minutes of tradition.
Played for the first time in LaLiga Santander’s 1935/36 season, it is a match which extends beyond the realms of sport and defines the character of the Andalusian capital. During the week prior and on the days following, there is no other topic of conversation to be heard in homes, bars and marketplaces. For the fans of both teams, winning this match gives them bragging rights as champions of the city.
As an interesting aside, it is worth noting that this rivalry extends to the so-called “Water Derby”, a boat race held every year since 1970 on the Guadalquivir, the river which carves the city into two, and in which oarsmen from different boat clubs fight for the colours of Sevilla FC and Real Betis.
Since it was opened in 1958, the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán has provided the backdrop to emotionally supercharged moments. Among them, the death of the player Antonio Puerta in a match in August 2007, which rocked Spanish football and turned the academy player into a club symbol, remembered by Sevilla FC fans in every game with a huge ovation in the 16th minute in honour of his shirt number.
A talismanic stadium for the Spain national team, where La Roja remain unbeaten in the 25 matches which they have played there, the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán has borne witness to the history of Sevilla FC. It is home to a club which, as is spelled out on the stands, is characterised by class and courage.